Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Summer Lovin'

Today I'm linking up with Diana from My Day in K and Jayme at Teach. Talk. Inspire. for Tell All Tuesday! This week we're writing about a summer flashback! 

We will pretend our flashback is happening on Sunday, when it will be 2 years since I got married! 

We have very few "official" pictures because we had a super simple courthouse wedding. We had a very short judge and a very short ceremony and a very select guest list (parents/stepparents/ a friend and his daughter). 

We had lunch afterwards, then met up with our friends at my favorite martini bar (all of us dressed classy, of course!) It was a pretty great night. We spent our money on our honeymoon rather than a ceremony, and we spent 2 weeks in California.

We flew into LA, drove north through Sequoia National Park,

spent a week in San Francisco,

drove back south and spent a night in Pismo Beach,

then back to LA for a few days! Where we saw CONAN!

It was definitely my favorite summer! And I'm SO glad I get to celebrate another amazing year of marriage this weekend!

What are your favorite summer memories? Join the fun!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Weekend Warriors: 3-2-1 Teacher Bio!

Is it already the end of June? Seems like my summer is already going by too fast!

Today I'm joining Andrea at Always Kindergarten and some other very lovely ladies for Weekend Warriors. I love the simple format, and I have loved learning more about other bloggers!

 Here is my 3-2-1 bio!

I am my biggest competitor. My teammates and I are all so awesome and all have different strengths, so I don't really compare myself to them (too much...). But oh man, am I always in competition with myself! Is this spring bulletin board better than the one last year? Is every bit of my classroom planned out and will it be more purposeful than before? These things keep me up at night!

There will be NO comic sans in my classroom. I have very few commercial products (aside from border..most things are made by moi). I am picky, and if they aren't what I like, I don't want to look at them for 185+ days of my year. The colors must be right, the fonts, everything centered... yeah, I'm a pain

Like many teachers, I am a hoarder. I have had a HUGE classroom with HUGE closets for 4 years now (not complaining after having a 15x15 room my first year with yellow walls and no windows), and I have accumulated mine and other peoples' stuff. I need to purge, but it is hard when there are things in your storage that isn't yours to purge. I am also super emotional, and I form attachments too quickly. Any takers for purging my crap stuff?

I am not someone you look at and think, "Oh, she's a teacher!" I dye my hair crazy colors. I wear obnoxiously large flowers in my hair. I have tattoos. I watch lots of crass tv and love every minute of it. My home and much of my wardrobe is dripping with skulls. I am very professional at work and during the year, but all bets are off right now! I'm one of the last people you would expect to teach the littles!

I am an only child. I am stubborn. I am also very introverted, so I am a strange bird to deal with! I thrive when I have alone time, and I've always had it growing up, so it is hard to turn off all the fun I could be having because it's summer to give myself some me time. It's a hard spot between wanting to go somewhere and knowing I need to scale back or I'll be too overwhelmed and cranky! My poor hubby :)

My ultimate goal in life is to make as much as a positive impact that I can, and leave the world a little better than it was when I came into it. I want to eventually earn enough and become seasoned enough that I have time, energy, and money to donate to causes that are important to me. I want to save all the puppies. I want to help kids realize their dreams. I want to help small business owners thrive. When I have the time and funds to make this happen, I will be a very happy person :)

What would you add to your bio?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Share & Prepare: Sight Word Lists and Letters

I've been out of school for two days now, and I already have no idea what to do with myself! So, time for more linkups!

Today I am joining Marie from Once Upon a Classroom for Summer Share and Prepare! Teachers share some of their favorite creations, while they get new ideas and prepare for next year. What an excellent idea!


Today I am sharing one of my go-to's for sight word assessment and practice. It recently went through my "Makeover Madness," so it's much better looking now!

Have you ever sent home a set of sight word flash cards? 52 cards on a list? I can just imagine what a parent is thinking- what do I do with all this?

A few years ago, a teammate and I came up with a solution to overwhelming kids and their families with crazy lists. The 220 Dolch words are split into 22 lists of 10 words. Each list has 2 parts: a letter to send home and a practice list for school.

The left side is kept in their cubbies for practice during word work. One favorite is "Stamp it Out." I love it because no one is bored practicing words they already know- they each have their own list they are working on.

The right side is a note for parents, giving them the next 10 words their child is working on. This is a reasonable number to work on, and I also send home a list of activities that they can do to help retain sight words. Once their child is fluent with reading/ recognizing/ spelling their words, they sign and date the paper and send it to school. I then assess the little reader, give them a fancy schmancy sticker, and they graduate to the next list.

I made a super simple assessment sheet to go with the lists. It is one sheet back to front, and is broken down by list. I add the date and in anything I noticed (such as this one having trouble with her "w" words). 

Along with the 22 word lists and assessment sheet, I recently added some parent letters (what are sight words, how my "system" works, and activities to do at home to practice sight words)and flash cards (2 of each word on the list). Click the picture below to check out the preview!


Want to try this pack out? Leave a comment to win a copy! 

Can't wait? Grab it here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 22, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Dare to Dream

It's already week 2 of the TPT Seller Challenge! Last week was all about makeovers, but now let's get down to it- why do I spend all this time on my computer making stuff for TPT?

While no one will complain about a few extra dollars coming their way, there are a few things I want to accomplish, that won't happen through just teaching alone. I just may be crazy enough to think I could achieve this through TPT!

First of all- pay off debt. I went to a  fancy shmancy (read: expensive) university for undergrad, and I will be paying that off for some time. Two years ago, my husband also went back to school to be an electrical engineer. We were also crazy enough to buy a condo last year. So, needless to say, I have some hefty bills each month. When hubby graduates, it will be even more. I am a good budgeter and I have no problem paying what I gots to, but it would be nice to pay some of these bills down and not have to worry so much if we went out to eat one too many times or if I can spend an extra few bucks to celebrate a friends' birthday.

This won't help with the paying off of debt, but I want to go back to school. I LOVE SCHOOL! I love being in the role of a student, and I would love to be able to earn my masters. I would be the first in my family to do this! I can't decide what exactly to focus on, but I can't wait to be a student again!

 In college when picking majors, my adviser asked what my main goal in life was, and I am still crazy enough to try to achieve that. I want to save animals.

9 years ago, my grandmother passed away. She was the most selfless, hard working person I have ever met. She was my rock. I will always honor her through animals- there was never an animal she didn't love, feed, and help. She worked two jobs to support her family and still made time to help animals in need, and I want to carry on her legacy. I used to want to open my own shelter, but I have shifted my focus to simply being able to give to some of my favorite animal charities. I try to give a little money here and there, but I would LOVE  to be able to write checks large enough to sponsor adoptions/ spays, and spend time with animals who need the most love.

A local dog shelter, One Tail at a Time, has a youth outreach program, and they came to my class last year with a dog to teach children how to properly care for and treat animals. Sit, Stay, Read uses dogs as reading buddies for struggling students to help them gain confidence as readers. I want to be a part of those programs, and be able to help wonderful organizations stay funded so they can continue to make an impact.

What are your TPT goals and dreams? Link up with  Peppy Zesty Teacherista, Teach Create Motivate, Sparkling in Second or Third in Hollywood to tell about your inspiration!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Must-Read Monday: Friendship!

Yay, Monday!

Today I am linking up with Suzanne from Kindergarten Planet and Alex from Kindergarten Connection for Must Read Monday! This week it's all about friendship books. Here are some of my favorites!
I couldn't pick just one!

Any Elephant and Piggie book is excellent for talking about friendship. Mo Willems is a genius (more on that later), and perfectly captures the feelings young friends can have, like being sad about breaking your friend's toy, being scared when a new friend comes into the picture, or trying to tell your friend they just aren't that good at playing the trumpet. At their core, Gerald and Piggie really care about each other, and they always find a way to solve their problem and be friends again. Plus, they are hilarious and easy for beginning readers to read on their own, so they are MUST HAVES in any primary classroom.


Farfallina and Marcel is another one of my favorites. This gosling/ caterpillar duo do everything together in their little pond. Things start to change, and they are sad when they think they've "lost" their best friend, but they stay friends despite their differences. This is a good one for stressing that although we might change (physically or emotionally), we are still capable of retaining our strong friendships.

The Sandwich Swap is another one I read every year, and is great at teaching about embracing each others' differences. Lilly and Salma are BFF's, but one day, they just can't keep in their thoughts about the other girl's "yucky" sandwich. This causes some BIG PROBLEMS, and they eventually find out that different foods are not so bad, and that being different/ liking different things isn't a reason to fight with your friends. Reading this also leads to a good discussion on the "right" way to express yourself to/ question your friends without hurting their feelings.

Also really cool, this book is written by a QUEEN. Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan to be exact. I love to point this out to my kids (especially my girls) so they know that being a queen isn't just about looking pretty and hanging out in a castle- a queen can do meaningful, powerful things!

A new book that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE is The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. I saw this one when it JUST came in to the library and was the first person to check it out because I was immediately blown away by the illustrations. THEY ARE GORGEOUS. The super cute Beekle is the only "imaginary" friend without a friend. So he decides to go out and find one. His adventures are excellent, and the illustrations are magical. Check it out now!

What are your favorite books on friendship? Join in and tell us about them!

*I am not affiliated with Amazon, links are provided for convenience*

Friday, June 19, 2015

Spotlight Saturday & Makeover Madness!

I know we've all been there. I AM EXHAUSTED. My babies "graduated" on Wednesday, I started tearing down my room on Thursday, and I broke out in a weird rash and stayed home Friday. I have 2 more work days, meaning only 2 days to tear down the rest of my Walmart-sized room and shove pack it all away nicely in my closet.

BUT, I wanted to get in a few posts about some awesomeness I've been doing. Like most teachers of the internet, I'm participating in the TPT Seller Challenge. I am SUPER new to the game, so I am hoping participating will help give me a little boost and help me reach some of my personal goals. Aaaaand, what better way to show off some of my work than linking up with one of my favorite linkys, Spotlight Saturday!

 One of the products I gave a makeover to was my -UG bug freebie! The cover is now much more sleek and colorful, and I added in a few pages from my -UG word family word work pack.

This freebie has make your own "-ug bugs," where students glue -ug words as spots on to a ladybug. I used these around Valentine's Day as "Love Bugs," and it made for a cute bulletin board. I added in the -ug pages from my short u word family pack, one for word building, and one for word writing. Click on the picture to download it!

Sorry to keep tooting my own horn, but I love this makeover as well! This was one of my earliest products. It is simple- put numbers in order. By 1's. By 5's. By 10's. With so many ways to differentiate. It is something I've used a billion times over the last two years.

But LOOK AT THE BEFORE PICTURE. Yuck. I wouldn't have purchased something like that myself.  I love the new, polished look to the cover page. It is more "me," rather than what I originally thought I "should" be creating. I am excited with how far I've come with my designs in just a few short months. I can't wait to see what I will do next!

Head on over to join Erin from Kindergarten Dragons to read about some awesome resources, and to spotlight some of your favorites!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Must Read Monday: End of the Year Favorites!

The end is near. Wednesday is my last day with my babies! This has been a LONG YEAR, and I am ready for the much needed break ahead. 

One of my big summer goals is to blog more, and I am starting a little early to link up with Suzanne from Kindergarten Planet and Alex from Kindergarten Connection for Must Read Monday! My favorite topic! 

For the kickoff, we are talking about some of our favorite books for the end of the year. Here are a few of mine:

This is one I just discovered this year, but it will be in my rotation for a long time. I am a messy person. I try SO HARD to stay organized, but I just can’t keep it together. So when I saw Mrs. McBloom, CleanUp your Classroom! By Kelly DiPucchio at the library, I picked it up and loved it! We read this last week, and discussed how we don’t want the “babies next door” (i.e. pre-k kids, many of whom are siblings to my kids) to have a messy room next year, so we have to pitch in to help Mrs. Garcia clean it up and make it perfect. It was a cute story, and drove the point home that many hands are better than one.

 Of course, there is this one. We read Dr. Seuss weekly, because he's one of my favorites, and Oh, The Places You'll Go! is no exception. This one is a little above most of their heads, but my students do appreciate the Seussical illustrations and melody of the words, and I need the reminders in those last few crazy days of what is in store for my babies. 

This may not be a traditional  end-of-year book, but I always read Knuffle Bunny Free at the end of the year. We are big Mo Willems fans in 110, and this one provides a sense of moving on, growing up, and gives a sense of closure to the year. The epilogue is great, too, and reminds me that I will get to embark on this journey again soon (and so will they)! 

What are some of your favorite end-of-the-year books? Link up to tell us about your favorites!

*Product links are provided for convenience. I am not affiliated with Amazon*

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tell-All Tuesday: Two Truths and a Lie!

Today I'm linking up with Diana from My Day in K and Jayme at Teach. Talk. Inspire. for Tell All Tuesday! This linky is aimed at helping us newbies in the blogging world learn a little more about each other.

This week, we're playing the old "two truths and a lie." Try to guess which one isn't true!
  •  I love to ride my bike along the lake- such a great way to unwind after work.
  • I can tell you at least 2 ways to get anywhere on the CTA (Chicago's transit system).
  • When I was born, we had 7 cats and 2 dogs.
UPDATE: Ready for the truth? 

I DID grow up with that many animals! We lived in a three-flat, with my uncles and grandparents occupying other floors, so between all of us, there were that many! I loved it! And if my grandma didn't work in my grade school, I'm sure none of my teachers would have believed it, either! 

I CAN tell you multiple ways to get somewhere on the CTA. I come from a very long line of CTA employees. Since my grandma worked at my school, during the summers she needed some cash, so she worked for the CTA (and I would tag along)! She did "Culture Bus," which is sadly no longer a thing, and she would get people acquainted with new bus and train routes. I am the go-to person for all my friends when they need to get somewhere :) 

And,  I DO NOT ride my bike along the lake- in fact, I don't know how to ride a bike. I do walk and jog along the lake, which is about half a block from my house :D

So much fun playing with you!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dear Kindergarten Teacher,

You are in for quite a ride! Today I am joining Mary from Sharing Kindergarten for Tips to a Kindergarten Teacher FROM a Kindergarten Teacher.

Kindergarten is a whole different ballgame than any other grade you will teach. The highs are higher, the lows can be lower, but there are some things you can keep in mind to make the journey successfully.


If you don't know who Jon Snow is, just know that is is known that he KNOWS NOTHING. The first few weeks (or months, depending on the class), you will have a class of Jon Snows. They don't know how to line up, or what a line is for that matter. They don't know how to open a carton of milk. They are wearing a uniform for the first time and can't quite navigate a belt an may have an accident. They don't realize that they will be with you for 7 hours, and many will fall asleep those first weeks. I do not mean to dismiss what they do know (boy, do they know a lot), but most do not know school, and none know you and your expectations.

They will be little Jon Snows. They won't know ANYTHING you want them to do those first few weeks. But they will learn. My first year teaching kinder, my friend, colleague, and mentor told me I would get past the Jon Snow phase. I didn't believe her, and I don't believe myself when I remind myself each year, but you WILL prevail. They will learn, you will love them, and they will know SOMETHING.

Get ready for how much of yourself you have to give. I went from 3rd to 2nd to 1st to K (where I am staying). Each year, I thought the kids were SO needy, but none are as needy as kinders. They need you to care, they need you to love on them, they need you to teach them the ways of the world. You are nurturing them from the second they walk in the door until well after they go home in the afternoon. When they are in your room, you are not only their teacher, you are mom/ dad/ auntie/uncle/ grandpa/ grandma/cousin for the next 7 hours. They need you to be all of those things and more in order to get through the day, and you have to be willing and able to give it your whole heart.

I am not complaining about having this tremendous task on my shoulders, but not everyone is up for it. The K teacher I replaced wouldn't give hugs or let her kids touch her- and those kids don't miss her. Your students are not going to remember their WPM or RIT scores they got in your class, but they will remember that you gave them a hug when they needed it, that you were encouraging and proud when they finally wrote their name correctly (even if it was in April), or that you took a minute to ask them how they are. Get your heart ready for the challenge.

Remember they are five. They are little. They are capable of so much, but they have needs, too. Yes, it is frightening to have soul-crushing standards on our shoulders and top-down pressure to crank out little machines geniuses, but these are LITTLE KIDS. Remember why you chose to teach.

Have fun. Make time for laughter. Sing a song, even if your voice is awful. Embrace creativity. Read silly books. Screw Forget your lesson for a day and go outside with some chalk. Not only do your babies need it, so do you.

This one is huge, frightening, and exciting. 
You are their KINDERGARTEN TEACHER. That is an honor. I do not know anyone who doesn't remember their kindergarten teacher. I still remember specific lessons my K teacher Mrs. Gutman taught us, 20 something years later. Third graders who are almost my height come by me after school for hugs and to ask about my cat Billy and if I remember the Knuffle Bunny play we went to see. You have celebrity status to them- they won't remember your flaws, they will revere you. They will love you forever.

YOU taught them to read. YOU made them excited for this journey called school. YOU were there for them when they were sad. YOU reminded them of their greatness. YOU forgave their mistakes, teaching them the valuable life lessons of forgiveness and fixing mistakes when you can. YOU ARE THEIR KINDERGARTEN TEACHER.

Oh, sweet teacher who is up for this challenge of teaching kindergarten....it is exactly that, a CHALLENGE, but so worth it. I wouldn't want it any other way. You can do it, you can do right by those little people sitting in front of you. Have fun and enjoy the journey!